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Ron Kroichick, golf writer for the San Francisco Chronicle


True confession: I had no interest in golf as a kid. My grand- parents played frequently and eagerly planted themselves in front of the television most Sunday afternoons, but their rest- less, oh-so-cool (not really) grandson thought golf was boring. Finally, in my 20s, I started playing more often and came


to realize the game’s mystical powers. Now I thoroughly enjoy covering golf for a living, and I love nothing more than spend- ing a sun-splashed afternoon walking 18 holes with friends. My bucket list arrives with a qualifier, because my job has opened so many doors—covering the Masters and U.S. Open every year, playing Augusta National and Pebble Beach, interviewing Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. I’m lucky, absolutely. I even caddied for Charles Barkley a few years ago, a wildly


entertaining, expletive-filled, nine-hole adventure. One last qualifier: Unlike Kevin Merfeld, my fellow Point/ Counterpoint columnist, I’m not an especially good golfer. I play occasionally these days, and my swing is infinitely better than Barkley’s (low bar), but a bogey-free round isn’t remotely on the radar.


My ambitions are considerably more modest: Beat the kid: My son, Trevin,


turned 13 in December. He outdrove me once last summer— with a ridiculously gorgeous draw around the corner on No. 2 at Tilden Park in Berkeley—and I still hear about it. So my list begins with a


simple wish: Do not lose to my son before his 16th birthday. This wish originally involved his 18th birthday, until I became more realistic. Dad’s prerogative.


Spend more time at 17: If


you’ve ever played Lincoln Park, the scenic if scruffy municipal course in San Francisco, then you know the allure of No. 17. The view from the tee is


breathtaking, looking back toward the Golden Gate Bridge from the west. The towers seem astonishingly close, as if you could smack a majestic drive right between them (and many players hit one old ball into the water, toward the bridge).


The No. 1-ranked Cal Golf Team


on earth.


It’s one of the coolest spots The MacKenzie tour: I


knocked one course off my bucket list in August, on a family trip to Santa Cruz. Trevin and I played Pasatiempo, one of the most interesting layouts around. The kid actually dug hear- ing tales of Alister MacKenzie and his architectural exploits. So now we’re visualizing a MacKenzie-driven jaunt around the Bay Area, from Meadow Club and Claremont to Sharp Park and Green Hills. Golf’s home: Back before


newspaper budgets shrunk, my paper sent its golf writer to the British Open. I was fortunate enough to cover two (2006 at Royal Liverpool and 2008 at Royal Birkdale), but neither trip involved a stop at St. Andrews.


That needs to happen, eventually. Go Bears: Stanford is awash


in golf history, from Sandy Tatum to Tom Watson to Tiger Woods. My alma mater across the bay? Not so much. It seems reasonable to expect a Cal alum to win on the PGA Tour in my lifetime (let’s not even start with the Rose Bowl). Charlie Wi has come close a few times, but some- one—Wi, Peter Tomasulo, one of Cal’s current players—needs to find his way to the winner’s circle on the big tour. (Side note: The Golden Bears begin 2013 as the nation’s No. 1-ranked team.) Encore to The Chip: Watson


and Tatum, after a few glasses of wine at the Tap Room, once headed out to the No. 17 green at Pebble Beach. There, in the dark, they and some friends tried to duplicate Watson’s fa- mous chip shot to win the 1982 U.S. Open. Sounds like a fine idea.


Who’s bringing the wine? Drive, putt, shape: Crush a


drive 300-plus yards, just once. Go an entire round without


a three-putt (it used to happen). Hit a draw, just once. Kiwi heaven: Have you seen


photos of Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs, two renowned courses in New Zealand? The setting for both courses is abso- lutely stunning. Note to self: Keep stashing


those frequent-flyer miles. Tame the beast: A course’s opening hole is supposed to be innocuous and inviting. That’s not the case at aforementioned Tilden Park, where the round begins with a 411-yard, par-4, uphill monster (man, it seems way longer). So my bucket list includes


having a birdie putt on No. 1 at Tilden. It doesn’t even matter if the putt drops. I just want to reach that darn green in two shots.


Aces wild: My grandpa


made three holes-in-one in his life. Each time, he sent me a post card with all the glorious details. One day, I wouldn’t mind sending a similar post card—or email or text—to my grandson.


WINTER 2013 / NCGA.ORG / 25


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